Ag Today June 7, 2017

Pistachio growers applaud ruling on Iranian nuts

Published on 06/06/2017 – 1:28 pm

Written by Business Journal staff


While one Valley farm group is suing the feds, another is lauding a decision to protect American farm products from foreign competition.

Last week the U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously reaffirmed an antidumping duty order on imports of raw, in-shell pistachios from Iran.

Dumping is the practice of selling goods in export markets for prices that are lower than in the producer’s home market or below the cost of production. The Iranian government also subsidizes its pistachio industry.

Since 1986 the U.S. has imposed an antidumping duty order on Iran of 241.14 percent on U.S. imports from the county, which “has been instrumental in allowing the U.S. industry to thrive since that time,” according to a news release from the Fresno-based American Pistachio Growers.

“We are pleased with this decision,” said Richard Matoian, American Pistachio Growers executive director. “We believe we had provided the necessary evidence the American pistachio industry would be harmed by imported products from Iran, and … the Commission, with its vote, has agreed with our position.”

Generally such “sunset” reviews are conducted every five years, but under U.S. law, the time during which imports are prohibited by a trade embargo are not counted. This was the second sunset review of the pistachio order against Iran since 1986.

Last year, a trade embargo against Iran dating back to the Iran hostage crisis of 1979 was lifted as part of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal.

The Commission’s full reasoning behind the decision will not be known until June 25, when it will release a full report.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, exports of California pistachios were worth $848 million in 2015, which represented a nearly 25 percent drop in value compared to 2014.

Last month, a group of California citrus growers filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would allow Argentinian lemons to be exported into the U.S. despite industry concerns about pests and diseases.